Despite what the conspiracy theorists might say, global warming is really happening. And the heat is on, if we want to keep the planet viable for the generations to come. It goes without saying that we need to fight climate change on every front. Moving away from fossil energy sources is the key, but sustainable packaging also plays a role in the battle.
Anyone following the modern discussion would be distressingly aware of the biggest threat to our planet and its existence – climate change. The evidence for it can already be seen in the form of extreme weather events, the global temperature rise and desertification, to mention a few issues. You don’t even have to take our word for it – just take a look at what Nasa’s calculators have to say.
Fossil fuels are the critical factor
Sad to say, the major cause of climate change is human activity. According to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the biggest offenders are fossil fuels, which are responsible for 86% of CO2 emissions globally.
As National Geographic explains, fossil fuels are a result of non-renewable energy sources such as coal, oil and natural gas. When burned, they release a huge amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which then heats up our one and only planet. But we still rely heavily on fossil fuels, as they are necessary for the very things most of us take for granted like electricity, heating and various forms of transport.
Food waste is also a serious problem
The rest, 14% of greenhouse gas, is caused by land use, mainly for agriculture for livestock feed. That said, how often do you find yourself thinking about the planet when scraping those leftovers into the bin?
What we eat generates greenhouse gases – and we cannot escape this. But the fact that nearly a third of all the food is wasted or thrown away should really ring the alarm bells. As the population increases, more food is produced and consumed (and wasted). And as the right kind of packaging helps reduce food waste, the need for more sustainable solutions in this sector is ever-increasing.
Fighting climate change on all fronts
Let’s start on a positive note: it’s not all a catastrophe. Nations worldwide have stepped up their game in preventing greenhouse gases. And the leader of the free world, the US, is re-joining the Paris Agreement in 2021 after a break of a few years. On the other side of the world, in the Nordics, in this case, Finland, sustainable forestry is already helping put a lid on greenhouse gases by functioning as carbon storage and significantly slowing down climate change.
So let’s keep up the good progress! Besides, moving towards fossil-free energy resources is vital for several reasons. Obviously to deal with the emerging climate crisis, but also to meet the ever-increasing need for affordable and accessible energy, before we run out of coal, oil and gas. Or can you imagine what would happen if this world fails to provide energy for all of us who occupy it?
Another pressing matter linked to increasing population and urbanisation is to find solutions for more renewable and recyclable packaging. We have to find ways to package so that fossil-based materials like plastic are replaced as much as possible and a minimum of food and other waste is created.
But to be honest, packaging itself has a minimum carbon footprint compared to the packaged product. The most critical choices are made in our own homes, so please remember: thou shalt not waste. Need more affirmation? Visit the live food waste calculator to get convinced.
What can I do as a consumer?
It is important that we keep in mind the contributions of the private citizens in fighting for our viable planet. Every day is a chance to decide; are you a part of the solution or the problem? It might be a big decision and investment, or just a small and ordinary thing – as long as you feel comfortable and are sure that you can commit.
- Consider powering your home with a heat pump or renewable energy like wind or solar. Make sure your home has good insulation.
- Make a little everyday change, like minimize food waste, eat less red meat and walk, bike or take the bus to work every now and then.
- Prefer environmentally friendly, renewable packaging solutions.
Climate greetings from WMO
We had the pleasure of talking to Geneva-based Finnish professor and scientist Petteri Taalas, who acts as the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization. Discover his key pointers on the current status of our fight against climate change. And what instances are leading the way towards the right direction for our planet?
Are we doing enough to prevent the climate crisis?
Actually, we don’t have a climate crisis just yet, but are definitely heading towards one with our current ways. Unfortunately not enough is done to prevent the crisis at the moment. But the perspective is more encouraging compared to the situations some years ago.
What is crucial in this situation?
The most important thing is to trust the numbers and focus on resolving on getting the carbon from the atmosphere. About 86 % of the CO2 now comes from fossil fuels, and 14% is coming from land use and deforestation. But as said, the key thing should be to move away from the fossil sources of energy currently used especially for power generation transportation and industry. Without touching these we simply cannot solve the problem.
Any global developments we should keep our eye on?
There are already plenty of positive examples – both from technical and economic means to solve the climate problem. Direction is positive especially in the Northern countries, where more climate friendly technologies in energy production are already being applied. China, on the other hand, is benefiting from solar technology as a big exporter. We will hear a lot about these developments in the near future. As Covid has highlighted, we also shop differently now, so the need for sustainable packaging and also recycling of the packaging is increasing.
What about the corporate sector?
Tesla is a game changer for electric cars. They have a very profitable business and are now setting an example for other manufacturers for electric and hybrid vehicles. Forest industry is an example of using the raw material, wood, to the fullest and also developing bioenergy solutions to be used sustainably. In Finland we also have Neste, an oil refining and marketing company that produces biofuels from waste. Most of their profitable business is already related to renewable fuels.
What climate friendly choices do you make in your personal life?
The distance between my home and workplace is roughly 15 kilometers, and 80 % of the time I commute by bike. It’s also good for my physical and and mental health. The red meat we consume at home is game, like deer or moose, but I tend to like fish better anyway. I am also trying to convince especially the female members of our family to cut down what I feel is unnecessary consumption. We are driving with hybrid cars and heating our house with heat pump system.